European Commissioner at EHFF 2016 on the importance of innovation in fitness

"Innovation in the health and fitness sector plays an important role in helping us create new opportunities for people to be more active."

"The European Union and EuropeActive share the same goals and we would very much like to continue the collaboration."

In the closing ceremony of the 3rd European Health & Fitness Forum (EHFF), Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, highlighted the important role that events such as EHFF can play in getting more Europeans to be more physically active.

The commissioner said: “Exercise is fun. It helps people feel better about themselves and  to lead healthier, more active lives.  We need to create new opportunities for people to move more and in ways  that are adapted to their needs. Innovation in the health and fitness sector is an important lead in helping us to make this possible.”

Commissioner Navracsics also spoke about the importance of the integrity of sport and the work of the European Commission, through projects, such as the European Week of Sport and recognised the contribution made by EuropeActive in the first week of sport in September 2015. For the 2016 European Week of Sport there will be a special focus on fitness and the Commissioner encourged the delegates at the EHFF to become engaged.

He also commented on the Erasmus+ programme, and noted the increasing level of funding that is available for fitness-related projects. EuropeActive has recently completed a successful project co-funded by the European Commission to promote action learning for children in schools project (ALCIS) – and is finalising a second in promoting active ageing.

Commissioner Navracsics talked about the importance of promoting health-enhancing physical activity and the recognition of this by the European Council statement. The Commissioner said "the fitness sector can play in vital to get more people active and acknoweldged the work of EuropeActive with its vision and strategy to reach 80 million citizens using fitness services by 2025". He went on to say that "in this context fitness is already recognised as the largest participation sport in the EU (according to the special Eurobarometer), and that inactivity is costing us 800 billion euro".

In the theme of this year’s EHFF “Growing Fitness Through Innovation,” the Commissioner discussed how innovation is a driver for change, and how new technologies and entrepreneurship will help fitness businesses to deliver more diverse solutions, to better communicate, and to motivate people to be more active, more often. This will also mean that the fitness sector can create new employment opportunities, but that we will also need to ensure that we have a skilled and motivated workforce to fully meet the challenges and opportunities for our sector.

"The European Union and EuropeActive share the same goals and we would very much like to continue the collaboration," said the Commissioner.

Before his speech, the Commissioner was presented with the latest publication by EuropeActive called “Growing the Fitness Sector through Innovation.” Sir Graham Watson, President of EuropeActive said "We are honoured that Comissioner Navracsics has come to the EHFF and we will have a full commitment to intensify our cooporation with the Commission in key areas of promoting the importance of regular phyical activity, and in raising the skills of fitness professionals to meet our vision of more people, more active, more often".